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Thompson on Hollywood

Howl Review: Doc/Drama Hybrid Misfires, Franco Soars

Howl Review: Doc/Drama Hybrid Misfires, Franco Soars
Howl is an ambitious and admirable film from documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (The Times of Harvey Milk). The filmmakers started out trying to make a documentary, but wanted to be able to show poet Allen Ginsberg as a young man, delivering the searing, profane classic poem “Howl” in 1955. They workshopped the movie at various Sundance labs, but the transition from doc to dramatic feature is an awkward one. The documentarians fell into the trap of trying to make everything based on real life, including the “Howl” obscenity trial that made Ginsberg famous—but putting well-known actors Bob Balaban, David Straithairn and Jon Hamm, skilled as they are, into the courtroom just serves to underscore its inauthenticity.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 24, 2010 11:23 AM
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The Social Network Update and Review

The Social Network Update and Review
Given the way things pile on now, you've already read more than you want to know about a movie you are dying to see, David Fincher's The Social Network. Some of you will go to the New York Film Festival September 24; others will wait until it opens October 1.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 21, 2010 3:10 AM
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  • 6 Comments

Salon The Town Review Attacks Affleck for Celebrity Malaise

While the rest of the world is restoring Ben Affleck to star status after his well-reviewed and well-attended The Town opening, Salon's Andrew O'Hehir is playing Armond White. He detects "troubling signs of celebrity malaise" in The Town, compared to Affleck's directorial debut Gone Baby Gone: "you can't even describe [it] as more of the same. It's less of the same." The movie is "mediocre," with plenty of "unnecessary expositional detail" in the dialogue written in part by Affleck.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 20, 2010 5:28 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Contraband Stars Beckinsale, Wasikowska vs. Phoenix, Panettiere as Amanda Knox

- Working Title is remaking 2008 thriller Reykjavik-Rotterdam (Iceland's 2009 Oscar submission) for American audiences. Kate Beckinsale will reportedly star opposite Mark Wahlberg in the retitled Contraband. He plays an alcohol smuggler-turned-security guard being lured back into below-ground business. Actor-director-producer Baltasar Kormákur, who produced the original and has directed six films (Inhale, starring Diane Kruger and Dermot Mulroney, comes out next month) will direct. Release is set for 2012.
  • By Sophia Savage
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  • September 20, 2010 4:11 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Boardwalk Empire: Best TV Pilot of 2010 and Third-Best Scorsese Movie of This Century

Boardwalk Empire: Best TV Pilot of 2010 and Third-Best Scorsese Movie of This Century
I have ordered my TiVo Season Pass to Martin Scorsese and Terence Winter's Boardwalk Empire, which starts on HBO tonight. TOH critic Tim Appelo has already seen it. "(Steve) Buscemi and (Michael) Pitt have roles to kill for, their best career catapults yet," Appelo writes in his rave review:In the Scorsese-directed kickoff episode of Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sundays 9 pm), the nude flapper floozy Lucy (Paz de la Huerta) flops her boobs at the camera, bouncing atop Atlantic City gangster Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), and bellowing nasally, “GIDDYAP, COWBOY!” “Stop with the ‘cowboy’ shit!” snaps Nucky.
  • By Tim Appelo
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  • September 19, 2010 7:44 AM
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  • 14 Comments

TIFF Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer Review, and Alex Gibney Talks

TIFF Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer Review, and Alex Gibney Talks
Alex Gibney's hugely entertaining Eliot Spitzer doc, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Elliot Spitzer, is a leading contender for this year's doc Oscar. The movie is full of surprises. In my flip cam interview with Gibney (below) he explains how the story he tells turned out far different from what he thought it would be, and why Wall Street Masters of the Universe were so eager to go on camera to chortle over Spitzer's dramatic comedown: "They wanted to stamp on Spitzer's grave," Gibney admits. 'It's not stretching the truth to say they hated this man."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 17, 2010 12:43 PM
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  • 1 Comment

Rotten Tomatoes Goes Social

Rotten Tomatoes Goes Social
Founded in 1998, movie-review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes is making changes under new owner Flixster. It’s going social.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 17, 2010 9:06 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Toronto Diary: Meek's Cutoff and Mysteries of Lisbon Are Snoozes; SUPER is Rousing

Toronto Diary: Meek's Cutoff and Mysteries of Lisbon Are Snoozes; SUPER is Rousing
After Meredith Brody's sustained Toronto pace of viewing and reviewing films, I felt compelled to take her to dinner, where we were joined by our pals Bernie and Martin, who scored a table at one of Toronto's finest, Nota Bene, after which she composed her latest missive (in which she's tougher on Meek's Cutoff than I was in Venice):Today, more than half-way through the festival, with news of acquisition deals drifting on the breeze like autumn leaves, both my body and my schedule began to betray me. (I don’t know why – aren’t five hours of sleep enough to sustain one on a regular basis? I remember reading that not only does Martha Stewart get by on four hours a night, but that she sleeps with the light on so she can start to multi-task immediately if she happens to wake up while it’s still dark outside.)
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • September 17, 2010 1:23 AM
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  • 1 Comment

TIFF Diary: Remembering Chabrol, Potiche, I Saw The Devil, Monsters, Brighton Rock

TIFF Diary: Remembering Chabrol, Potiche, I Saw The Devil, Monsters, Brighton Rock
In her ongoing Toronto journal, day five, Meredith Brody starts off remembering Claude Chabrol:So I realized trudging home from the subway last night that the reason I hadn’t remembered that the Toronto subway doesn’t begin running until 9 a.m. on Sunday was that I never had been obliged to use the subway on the way to an early-morning screening before.
  • By Meredith Brody
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  • September 16, 2010 5:53 AM
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TIFF: Eastwood's Hereafter Debuts in Toronto to Mixed Reaction

TIFF: Eastwood's Hereafter Debuts in Toronto to Mixed Reaction
One of the things that happens at a fest like Toronto is bad timing: I went to see Barney's Version at Roy Thomson Hall Sunday night with a ticket in my pocket for the later public screening of Clint Eastwood's Hereafter at the Elgin/Visa, a brisk fifteen-minute walk away. But producer Robert Lantos and his team made such a long intro, and the movie was significant enough to stay through to the end, so I missed the Eastwood. I'll see it later. The movie has gotten a "good not great" response here.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • September 15, 2010 6:47 AM
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  • 0 Comments

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